An Interview with Wedding Photographer Alexander Whittle
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Q. What kind of equipment do you use now, and what did you start with?
I started with a medium format 6x7 Mamiya RZ and a Minolta Dynax 7, both film cameras.
I now use all digital cameras, with top of the range lenses including all the gizmos to go with it. I’ve recently come across Sony’s Alpha range which is pretty impressive! They’ve come a long way since entering the DSLR market only a few years ago. I started out using the Sony A900 and then more purchased the recently launched Sony A850.
The A850 is packed with all the same features as the A900 but is built with a rugged yet lighter body, perfect for pro-style handling and performance.
I also find the creative possibilities are endless with the addition of its family of lenses that includes premium full-frame optics from Carl Zeiss and Sony G Lens models.
Q. What has been the single most important technological improvement for your photography, and why?
This is a tough one, as since I started 6 years ago everything has changed!
It would be easy to say camera sensor improvements, however in reality the single most important thing is colour management software, and hardware.
I bought a Xrite spider when they came out and all the colours started looking as I had seen them. Suddenly I finally had a colour managed workflow from capture to print. It was revolutionary!
Q. What's your favourite ever image, and why?
My favourite image ever has got to be the photo I’ve used on our business cards. It’s a picture of a Jack Russell taken from ground level. It shows such character and presence. I just love it!
It was actually the first image I ever sold, and totally typifies my style.
I find each year there is always one image that really stands out and captures something special about that year. For example, this year’s award winning image of the girl running up the stairs will always encapsulate 2009 for me.
Q. What has been your most interesting or dangerous assignment?
Before I was a wedding photographer I was a photojournalist for a couple of years, so was lucky enough to have had some lovely assignments. It was all fairly safe, apart from a little foray into a slum in Rio.
However my favourite and most interesting personally, was a 3 week assignment in Zambia. I was following a team of professors from Manchester University who were conducting a study on the effects of a program run by a small charity called PEPAids.
They were charting the program effect on cutting the HIV infection rate in small villages. It was amazing to meet and photograph the people who quietly and without thanks, got on with improving and saving people lives.
It was very humbling and will always remind me of easy we have it here.
Q. Has the recent recession impacted on your business, and how have you dealt with it?
We have been very lucky to have had a constant stream of enquiries and haven't suffered a drop in business.
The one element we have changed is to stage payments throughout the year, which helps with the perennial cash flow problem in the slow month of February!
Q. What is the one piece of advice that you would give to other budding photographers?
Q. Finally, how do you think photography will change in the future, if at all?
I guess with so many people now becoming citizen photographers with SLRS hanging of their necks, photography standards are being affected. The value of having a photographer is becoming negligible. So professional photographers really need to up their game and make sure they are massively different to the mob.
In a way it’s actually better and more creatively challenging as people will only pay you to do a job if you can do it remarkably better than average. Which in turn I’m hoping will mean, Camera brands will continue to challenge themselves and help us push our creative flair to the absolute limits by continuing to supply us with the demand for better and more exciting professional camera technology.
The competition is only going to become even fiercer and only the ones who can show their difference and ultimate value will make it.
Alexander started out working in sales and in 2000 he became the European salesman of the year for WorldCom. However, corporate sales wasn’t really for him and after achieving his goal of becoming European salesman of the year and having no desire to climb any higher he decided to pursue a different career.
He was due to start as a trainee chef, when a good friend pointed out to him that he should look into a career in Photography. The penny dropped as a hobby he had done since he was a child just using point and shoot cameras suddenly became a burning desire within him.
He was lucky enough to be selected to study at a prestigious course in the then London college of printing (now called the London college of communication).
Alex was tutored by some of the best names in the business, such as Gerhard Mankowitz and Homer Skyes. Originally, he had wanted to pursue a career as a photojournalist, but with a wedding coming up which he had been asked to shoot for, he began to change his mind.
He started shooting weddings for a Church in central London and finally found his creative home.
After only 5 years in the business, this year he won the Wedding Photographer of the Year 2009 at the Annabel Williams Photographic Awards.
Alexander has recently become the ambassador for the new Sony A850 camera.